Thursday, December 23, 2004

How Much Confirmation Do You Need?

According to reports, pro-abortion forces are amassing their troops to oppose the rumored elevation of either Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia to the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Both are said to be candidates to replace the ailing William Rehnquist.

Kim Gandy of NOW was quoted last week as opposing Scalia because he "is so disrespectful of his fellow and sister justices on the court. The level of disdain for the other justices in his opinions comes through loud and clear."

It's rare for me to agree with someone from NOW, but I completely concur with Miss Gandy's characterization of Scalia's attitude towards the rest of the Court. In fact, it's a primary reason why he's one of my personal heroes.

Nonetheless, I think the Bush administration would be foolish (though that's never stopped them) to promote Thomas or Scalia. Whoever is nominated to be Chief Justice will face a bruising confirmation fight in the Senate. Neither Thomas nor Scalia would fare well in such a battle. Thomas was famously lynched during his first Senate hearings in the early 90's. Scalia is hated with a passion by the left and they'd bring out everything they've got against him. So why go through a bruising confirmation battle and expend tons of political capitol on behalf of someone who's already a member of the court? The administration would be fighting a huge battle just to stay even, really. And when it's all said and done, they'd still be stuck with an opening to fill (and another horrific confirmation battle).

Instead, Bush would be smart to simply kill two birds with one stone. He should nominate the new person (whoever it is) directly for Chief Justice, and save the rest of his ammunition for the next opening, which is likely to come along sooner rather than later.

It's not at all unusual. Before Rehnquist was promoted from Associate Justice to Chief Justice in 1986, his previous two predessesors (Warren Burger and Earl Warren) both entered the Court as Chief Justices.

It would be senseless to fight two costly battles to merely add one conservative justice to the Court.

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